It has been a while since I’ve acquired a new pair of waders, mostly as a result of my preference to wade wet whenever temperatures will allow, thus limiting my need to replace my sad old pair of White Rivers. But, given that I’ve been seeking to expand my season, it was time to get into a new pair. Given the positive feedback that Orvis' Silver Sonic Guide waders have been receiving from the field since their release, they seemed like a good place to start.
Orvis termed this new addition to their Silver Sonic wader lineup “guide” waders because of the way they’re built to stand up to abuse. To quantify that, Orvis compares them to other waders in the Silver Sonic line, rather than using ambiguous language about competitor’s offerings. If you’ve ever inspected the other waders in the Silver Sonic line, you know that they’re well made, hardy waders themselves, making the fact that Orvis describes the Silver Sonic Guides as 4 times more abrasion resistant and 40% more puncture resistant than the Silver Sonic convertibles truly something to talk about.
The Silver Sonic Guide Waders are constructed with Orvis’ SonicSeam ® technology (no stitching) and according to Orvis they are bulletproof. Orvis touts them as likely to outlast your last 3 pairs of waders combined. But, being durable isn’t all a great pair of waders needs to be, they need to be comfortable and offer features that can make your day on the river more convenient and successful.
These waders wear light, in a way that one might not expect from waders so highly touted as durable, and are built in a way that offered excellent freedom of movement. I’m always scrambling over, around and under obstructions, so this is particularly important to me. I’m not a professional guide, but I bet that would hold for those brave souls as well.
And they’re comfortable. The Silver Sonic Guide waders have an athletic fit without being constrictive. I was able to comfortably conceal a pair of “3-weight” base layer drawers, a pair of Kuhl “Liberator” pants and thick socks within.
Fit-and-finish, as it relates to construction, is excellent. The seams are, well, nearly seamless. Thanks to the aforementioned patented SonicSeam technology, the seams are “double-reinforced” and have exactly zero stitches. This enhances freedom of movement and limits any chafing or pinch points if you’re not piling on layers underneath them. The feet are heavy duty as are the elastic cuffs which appears like it will hold tightly to your boot for as long as these waders last.
I haven’t been banging these around for a full year, so only time will tell how well SonicSeam technology reduce abrasions and increases durability of these Silver Sonic Guide Waders. Orvis has been using SonicSeam technology in its waders for years now, and has even licensed the technology to other major fishing brands for use in their waders. So, if these hold up to regular abuse for multiple years as expected, they will prove themselves to be a true value buy.
The Y-style padded yoke suspenders never crossed my mind. That is to say, like a good sports referee, when they’re doing their job well, you don’t notice them. Same goes for the incorporated belt. The reinforced elastic gravel guards also work well. In every hour to date in these, I’ve remained bone dry, comfortable and with full freedom of movement. The smart placement of the seams up the back of the legs reduces friction without restricting movement in the least. All wins.
The Silver Sonic Guides provide a solid amount of storage. Externally there is a top loading zip front chest pocket that will easily hold a wallet stuffed with however many receipts or discount cards or licenses your billfold harbors, a set of keys and a couple of Kind bars to boot. There is a wide “kangaroo style” hand warmer pocket that stretches nearly the full width of the chest. It is a nice feature especially if your jacket (or gloves) is a few hundred feet (or yards) up the bank. It could stand to be a little more “plushly” lined to up the warmth factor in my opinion, but again, it is a thoughtful feature. And if the temps are really low, throw a couple of chemical-aided warmers in there and you’re good to go.
The interior holds a zip-lock style cell phone pocket with touch screen compatibility. And it works. Swipe and tap away at your mobile device without having to expose it to the elements, or fumbling it into the river. It’s a really nice feature if you have to check in on the shop, or the honey, to let them know about your ETA or whatever else might demand a check in and/or reply.
I did have some trouble getting the hefty zip top zipper to fully clasp shut on the first few attempts. It needs to be very carefully lined up and sealed up pinch by pinch. I found myself wishing this process were easier and faster. Perhaps with continued use, it will “free up” a bit.
Orvis calls the Silver Sonic Guide waders “value priced.” I’ve never considered a $395 pair of waders “value priced,” but given the current top end prices from Redington at $499.95 and the fact that Simms offers six models at $499.95 or higher -- including the range topping G4Z Stockingfoot at $799.95 -- “value priced” is a fair description. Even if you manage just 100 days out of these $395 waders, you’re looking at $3.95 per day of relative dryness and warmth. Given that Orvis is promising a great deal more longevity than that, “value priced” begins to sound more than accurate.
Picking a size ain’t easy. In the 2014 Silver Sonic line, Orvis provides a sizeable array of fitting options. There are 14 fitting options within the sizing chart. Piece of cake, right? Well, not so fast. Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?
On a fancy hair day I’m exactly 6 feet tall and wear size 12 shoes. To be fair, my build is best described as beanpole with big feet. I weigh 165 wet. The pair of medium/long Silver Sonic Guide waders I opted for out of the gate indicate a 38-40 chest (good), a 32-34 inseam (ok, I can usually get by with 32s), and a size 9-11 bootie option (that’s gonna be tight). When these bad boys arrived, I tried them on (yes, I was so excited I did it in my office in front of my co-workers), and pretty much needed to be 6’2” to make these things work. The uppers nearly topped my shoulders. No dice.
So into the mediums I went. Still a smidge “tall,” but definitely workable. Unfortunately, thanks to my big feet, the bootie size proved a bit problematic: 8-10 is the only option in the size. But they’ve got some give.
Despite the 14 different sizing options available in the Silver Sonic Guide Waders, you still may have trouble finding the perfect fit if you don’t fit a typical mold. In fairness to Orvis, I suppose it is tough making enough options to fit every prospective buyer while still seeking out a reasonable profit margin per pair.
Orvis SonicSeam technology, employed and patented by Orvis for the purpose of reducing abrasion by lowering the seam profile and fully eliminating stitches and holes, promises to do its duty long-term and thus far I’ve got little reason to doubt that this is a promise Orvis is sincere about keeping.
I’m looking forward to continuing to wear these hard, because I tend to be tough on my gear, especially waders -- and seeing just how long I can abuse them.
For now, what I’m confident saying is, if you can make the sizing chart work for you and $395 is in your price range, give these a go. I’ll bet you a beer of your choice these stand up to anyone else’s offering at the price. They’re good. Really good.